160 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
back the solemn pledge which had been extracted from me by those whom I respected—nay, revered—and I knew that the return was inescapable. The knowledge did not sadden me, however, for I knew also that when the world tired me, I could plunge into the deep well of my spiritual being and later withdraw refreshed, serene, satisfied and happy. In that great consecrated silence within I could hear the clear voice of God, even as in the great silence of this temple hall I could hear the more feeble voices of the vanished gods. When we turn outwards to the world we wander amid shadows and perplexities, but when we turn inwards we may move amid sublime certitudes and eternal beatitudes. "Be still," the Psalmist had counselled, "and know that I am God."
We have lost the old art of being alone and do not know what to do with ourselves in solitude. We do not know how to make ourselves happy out of our inner resources, and so we must pay entertainers or other persons to make us temporarily happy. We are not only unable to be alone, but less able to sit still. Yet, if we could keep the body in one posture for a time and use our mind in the right manner, we might win a deep wisdom worth having, and draw a deep peace into our hearts.
Thus I rested for nearly a couple of hours until the incessant tick-tock of time sounded again in my ears and I opened my eyes once more.
I looked around at the thick reeded pillars which dotted the hall and supported the heavy roof, curiously resembling giant papyrus-plants holding up solid domes. Their shafts were lit up here and there by rays of sunlight that penetrated holes in the roof and revealed their pictured and coloured bas-reliefs. Here was the Pharaoh standing ceremonially in the presence of one of his time-honoured gods or being led before the great Osiris himself; there was row upon row of lined hieroglyphs —so mysterious to the uninitiated eye. Seti himself had seen those selfsame inscriptive pillars with their projecting bases.
I stretched out my stiff feet for a minute and then got up to move around the place. Through lofty chambers and past vaulted sanctuaries, I crossed to the closer study of wall paintings whose blue, green, red and yellow colourings looked not less fresh against their white, marble-like calcareous limestone background than when they left the artist's hand three thousand five hundred years ago.
The delicate, skin-touched beauty of women must sooner or